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NEWS: Heritage house deteriorates (Nov. 2019)

December 9th, 2019 · No Comments

Residents frustrated by inaction

The houses at 6 and 8 Walmer Road have long been neglected. Windows and doors are boarded up and garbage accumulates on the property. Khyrsten Mieras/Gleaner News

By Khyrsten Mieras

The property at 6 Walmer Rd. is covered in litter. The house has boarded-up windows and doors, the walls are covered in graffiti, and there are holes in the roof. It has been a long road of deterioration for the property, a heritage house, and its poor condition continues to draw complaints from neighbouring residents.

Last year The Annex Gleaner noted the historical significance of the property: it was designed by Frederick Henry Herbert in 1896 for Presbyterian minister Thomas Goldsmith and his family. Later, it was designated a heritage site under the Ontario Heritage Act. In recent years, there have been many issues with the house that still remain and have not been addressed by the owners or the city to preserve its heritage.

In August 2018, the city ordered the current owner, NSCL Investments Ltd., to repair the damage to the heritage features by Oct. 1, 2018. However, the company appealed this and the deadline was extended to Nov. 1, 2019.

Neil Jain, who lives at 10 Walmer Rd., has observed the decline of both 6 Walmer Rd. and the adjoining building at 8 Walmer Rd. Jain has been involved with efforts to restore it for about five years. He and other residents share similar concerns for the state of the properties.

“Under the Heritage Act the owner is supposed to comply with certain standards… so that it doesn’t become a safety hazard with perhaps a collapse of the roof or collapse of a wall,” says Jain. “In general, the property is not being maintained to the standards that I think the city of Toronto would expect through its bylaws.”

Albert Koehl, an environmental lawyer and vice-chair of the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA), has been working to restore the house at 6 Walmer Rd. since Jain contacted the ARA in January 2017.­

“Last year we were very concerned about it. Now a full year has passed and there is still no action being taken,” says Koehl. “It looks to us that the building is being allowed purposefully to deteriorate and we don’t see the city intervening despite the community having first brought this to their attention five years ago.”

Days before the November deadline, the order was extended for a second time. Through email, Elizabeth Glibbery, director of Investigation Services at the city of Toronto, informed the Gleaner that the property owner has been granted an extension to Jan. 1, 2020. 

“The owner is working closely with the city, including City Planning Heritage Preservation Services and Municipal Licensing & Standards, to accomplish the necessary repairs,” says Glibbery.

According to Koehl, this further delay and the approach of winter will allow for another season of inaction at the crumbling heritage site. 

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